In 2012, Mexico joined the growing list of Latin American countries allowing class actions. In Mexico's case, the new law allows for class actions for consumer and environmental claims. A number of safeguards were adopted to prevent some of the abuses seen in U.S. class actions. But over the past two years, there have been attempts to repeal these safeguards as well as exploit two new laws that could lead to more class actions.
First, the Mexican Congress enacted a new environmental liability law in June 2013. The law allows both direct and indirect damages against polluters. Non-governmental organizations can now file complaints with government authorities, which can lead to fines or a directive to abstain from certain activity. Once the fines or restrictions are approved, follow-on civil class actions can be filed, bypassing the requirement to establish causation.
Most recently, the Mexican Senate introduced an initiative to modify two statutes: the Federal Civil Liability on Environmental matters and the Federal Code of Civil Procedure. In both, the bill eases the safeguards placed on NGOs to have standing to sue. While the change to the environmental law is limited to that subject matter, the change to the country's civil procedure rules applies to any subject matter pertaining to class actions.
Finally, a relatively new law allows "amparo" actions (alleging violations of constitutional or fundamental rights) to be brought on a collective basis against government entities, government-owned enterprises, or private companies that are subject to operating licenses issues by the government. Claimed violations can be based not only on the Mexican constitution, but also international treaties. The law will likely increase litigation against businesses selling licensed services or products, such as pharmaceutical companies. Law firms have already formed organizations to file collective "amparos."